1 in 30 million chance of the victor winning by 1 vote, and of that swinging the election.Expand full comment
 I enjoy voting. your move.Expand full comment
 That's a clever point - but most people on the verge of death are not out driving cars. The majority of fatal traffic accidents are caused by people making mistakes, not by dying of cancer while at the wheel. So neither my nor your use of the statistics is fully-baked.Expand full comment
 " The average state has a lot more than a 1 in 30 million change of swinging the vote. Even states with only 3 electoral votes have a much higher than 1 in 30 million change of swinging the election."I meant, "The average state has a 1 in 30 million chance of /it's/ electoral vote being decided by one vote."There may be a higher probability that your vote will swing the national vote due to electors challenging the constitutionality of being forced to vote according to the popular-vote win. Stuff like that, black swans inside our election system itself, could account for most of the probability of your vote swinging the outcome.Expand full comment
 re: "So what that figure really means is that the "average" state has a 1 in 30 million chance of swinging the vote"The average state has a lot more than a 1 in 30 million change of swinging the vote. Even states with only 3 electoral votes have a much higher than 1 in 30 million change of swinging the election.Expand full comment
 And that's not taking into account the influence you have on changing the vote even if not directlly changing it, which in 2004 in florida has shown to have been as good as about 1/500 which increases the value of voting.Or the count of people a post about the likelyhood of death while going to the election may influence, which has much higher potential, thus increasing the value of ignoring said post and voting anyways.As it turns out, statistics are just a way to play around with numbers to make people believe you. Atleast use good statistics now.Expand full comment
 The statistics are all off. let's for a moment go over the statisticsWe know the the increased probability of dying due to an auto accident on election day is about:24/(3 x 10^9)The probability of one vote changing the election is up to:1/201or assuming the flawed 1000 year probability suggested by the poster:1/1001but likely less. Now lets get those in perspectiveDeath probability:3/(3.75 x 10^8) with a pretty small deviationprobability of influencing the election:0/1 to 374625/(3.75 x 10^8)or about:187312/(3.75 x 10^8) with a deviation of the sameso they have the same denominators so (187312/3) or about 62437 times more likely to have a single vote influence the election then to die on the way to the elections.Keep in mind that the values are approximate and the sampling data is poor, but the statistics are sound.Expand full comment
 No one is a perfectly rational selfish utility maximizer. That's why classical economics doesn't work.Rationality in all walks of life make one an uncaring, unfeeling, unsympathetic, and often immoral robot.Expand full comment
 Phil Goetz- is rationality irrational to a self-interested agent?"If ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise". But ignorance is not necessarily bliss.It is necessary for parts of society to behave rationally, when doing their job. Surgeons, engineers, etc. However, outside of doing a job, people are often irrational, and it is not certain that being rational would be good for each, or for Society. Example, one consoling another who is bereaved. I feel consoled by the other, though I do not believe in an afterlife, have genuinely lost the deceased; but a hug makes me feel better. I do need to dwell on rational considerations, but also need to mourn, to heal, which is not a rational process.I read this blog because I wish to improve my ability to think rationally, but I am not convinced that being rational is appropriate in all circumstances, for the individual or the tribe.Expand full comment
 Oolon_Colluphid_Dem, those people do exist. Haven't you ever heard someone say, "I live in California, so my vote doesn't even count; Obama is going to win easily. If I lived in Virginia, then my vote would mean something."Expand full comment
 I would really love to meet these mythical people who only vote in presidential elections because they believe their one vote will determine the outcome. I've never met one, nor have I seen one online, or talked to anyone who has met one. I doubt believe they exist and if they do I highly doubt they are anywhere close to the majority.These people seem to be the focus of a great deal of those who believe voting to be a waste-at-best or even a vice. Yet I don't see that much data on exit polling or nationally conducted surveys that show these one-vote-deciders even exist outside of the imagination of third party voters and anarchists.So some information on these one-vote-deciders would be appreciated.Expand full comment
 "The number of times that a single vote has affected the outcome of a US presidential election is, so far, zero."Here you are just flat wrong. Every single vote "affects" the outcome of the election. That is a self-evident fact. You should have said that no single vote has ever determined the outcome of an election.Expand full comment
 Abigail wrote:This could be an argument against working hard to ensure all ones behaviour was rational. What advances my interests best? Why does anyone assume that it is rationality? If living in a "fool's paradise" makes me happier, and does not bring me up against Reality in too painful a way, so that I become rational where necessary, whenever I do find that I bump against reality, why spend effort "overcoming bias" at all? Because it is "fun", and gives an emotional reward?Good question. To some extent, rationality is a public good. Your being rational may benefit others more than yourself. (Although in the case of voting, the original post suggests it may harm others.)So, to a self-interested agent, is rationality irrational?Expand full comment
 JB wrote:Please explain to me why your assertion is true. In particular, please explain why the rationality of behavior must be always be evaluated in terms of individual utility as opposed to being evaluated as being part of a collectively rational activity.I was being lazy. The last part of the post considers collective utility.I think it's interesting that you can take the money values involved in behaviors with public benefits, and calculate the ratio of self / community interest that people use in their decisions. (I didn't do that, because I think it would be better to use a less ideology-laden behavior to come up with that figure.)Expand full comment
 Isn't it interesting how some people use the word meme as a derogatory? They only use it for things they don't agree with instead of actually considering the point.There isn't really much difference between the parties, except to a small degree in their lies and rhetoric.Here's John Derbyshire's take on the election:Name of PartyVotes WonPercent of TotalTax And Spend Party68,440,79352.8Borrow And Spend Party(Also known as "Tax yourKids and Spend Party")59,390,57645.8Stop Reckless Spending Parties 723,293 0.6All hail democracy!!!Expand full comment
 Is JH arguing past the question of rationality?JH said, You have to add in the value one receives from the act of voting. People like voting. They receive value from simply going to their polling place and voting. The proper formula is:PB - C + VP = Probability your vote sways an election.B = Benefit you get from your candidate winning.C = Cost of voting.V = Benefit you get from the act of voting.V is what explains why most people vote.A: I agree that I get a value from voting, a good feeling, whatever that might be. I could tell myself that my feeling is "irrational", and therefore I would be better off not voting for the reasons above. Or I could just vote, because of the good feeling I get from it.What is the cost to me of voting? The time it takes, (I too walk to the polling station), and the risks of going there, which are different from the risks of being where I would otherwise be. Voting gives me an emotional reward.The good feeling outweighs the costs for me.This could be an argument against working hard to ensure all ones behaviour was rational. What advances my interests best? Why does anyone assume that it is rationality? If living in a "fool's paradise" makes me happier, and does not bring me up against Reality in too painful a way, so that I become rational where necessary, whenever I do find that I bump against reality, why spend effort "overcoming bias" at all? Because it is "fun", and gives an emotional reward?Expand full comment